The community of Lenca women, Indigenous to Honduras, has been practicing agroforestry for millennia as a sustainable farming method in their dry region. They are keeping this traditional knowledge alive by growing organic, fair trade crops like coffee in worker-owned cooperatives. Farmers like Eva Alvarado helped to create an all-female growers’ cooperative in 2014, as part of the Cosagual coffee growers’ organization. Their coffee is now sold around the world, and the women bring home a larger share of the profits than before. The Lenca group is known for radical work: Berta Cáceres, the famous Indigenous activist murdered in 2016, also belonged to the community. The idea of this cooperative was seeded at a gender equality workshop with the Association of NGOs. Agroforestry, which involves planting fruit and timber trees in the shade, is an effective way to combat food insecurity, erosion and acts as a carbon sink. Women in Honduras are coping with climate change using agroforestry, a method that can provide a sustainable livelihood to many communities. Photo Credit: Monica Pelliccia
Across Honduras, woman activists are fighting for their rights, even in the face of physical and sexual violence, intimidation, incarceration, and sometimes death. Berta Cáceres, who was the co-founder of Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH) and fought tirelessly against the construction of the sacred Agua Zarca Dam, was gunned down on March 3, 2016. The government, run by President Juan Orlando Hernández, has rejected calls for an independent investigation of her murder. He has also been accused by Human Rights Watch of actively contributing to the oppression of women and girls in Honduras, and a UN report stated that the administration has paid “minimal attention to” gender empowerment. Cáceres’ death has sparked protests and political action nationally and internationally as women call for an end to gender-based violence. In Honduras, a woman is murdered every 16 hours, a number that increased by 263 per cent between 2005 and 2013. Tragically, 96 per cent of femicides reported are never solved. Still, even in the face of bleak statistics, women leaders in Honduras claim that some changes are being made, particularly as the daughters of Cáceres lead the continuation of her fight. Photo Credit: Elizabeth McSheffrey (use photo of Berta posters in chapter 1)
There was an attempted attack on Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres, the daughter of renowned environmental activist Berta Cáceres, and the new leader of Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) on her way home from a community visit. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now speaks with Bertita Zúñiga Cáceres to get insight into the attack and the possible motives. She is also joined by US Representative Hank Johnson and Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, a former COPINH member. Photo credit: Democracy Now!
Standing up to dams, mines, logging and unsustainable agricultural practices on your land could cost you your life in Honduras. Honduras has been ranked as the world’s deadliest country for environmental activists. Berta Cáceres, founder of Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered there for her environmental activism. Melissa Cardoza has dedicated her book “13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance” to Cáceres and women of the Honduran Resistance in the aftermath of the June 2009 coup. Photo credit: Fernando Antonio
The Indigenous people of Honduras rely on subsistence farming to feed their families, an increasingly precarious arrangement due to deforestation from large-scale agriculture and climate change. The Women’s Association of Tansin teaches women about sustainable farming, forest management, crop diversification and incorporating tree conservation into their farming. Photo credit: Avery Dennison
Due to her work as a human rights defender, Ana Mirian Romero, along with fellow members of the Consejo Indígena San Isidro Labrador, has been receiving death threats. Since 2010 she has been fighting the development of a project that lacks free, prior and informed consent by the affected communities, the Los Encinos hydroelectric dam. Ana Romero has been through a lot: an arson attack to her house, police raids in her home, physical assaults by the police, harassment by authorities. And yet, once again her life is endangered. Photo credit: Frontline Defenders
Ana Mirian Romero, a Honduran human rights and environmental activist, travelled to Dublin in order to receive the 2016 Front Line Defenders Awards. Her work against the construction of a hydroelectric dam was recognized as instrumental to the defense of her community’s ancestral lands. She fights for the possibility of providing Indigenous children with a better future, one in which the air, water and soil are not devastated to benefit companies. Photo credit: Conor McCabe
Miriam Miranda, director of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), is fighting numerous battles for climate and environmental justice. The land and ocean resources of the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna people of Honduras are threatened by foreign extractive industries, violent government land seizure, drug cartels, tourism, and changing ecosystems. Food scarcity, poverty, and climate disasters lead Garifuna men to seek work in the cities or migrate to the United States. As a result, women often bear the brunt of the effects of climate change and the burden of maintaining the Garifuna community’s land and traditions. In response, Garifuna women have set up camps on their ancestral land despite the increasing militarization of the area. They have also begun to replant coconut trees and mangrove forests to counter river erosion and create barriers against rising sea levels. Photo Credit: Felipe Canova, feministing.com
Miriam Miranda is a leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), an organizations that supports Garifuna Indigenous rights and defends natural resources. She became a women’s rights defender after witnessing the living conditions women suffered in the slums of Tegucigalpa. Since the 2009 coup in Honduras, the encroachment of oil palm interests, drug trafficking, mining, hydroelectric projects, and large-scale tourist development has intensified threatened the well-being of the Garifuna people. Miranda uses traditional song, dance and drumming to revitalize her community while spearheading resistance efforts. Photo credit: Global Fund For Women
In 1990, Jeannette Kawas formed the Fundación para la Protección de Lancetilla, Punta Sal y Texiguat PROLANSATE (Foundation for the Protection of Lancetilla, Punta Sal and Texifuat) to protect Honduras’ northern coast from the development of resorts, cattle ranches, palm oil plantations and industrial farming. In 1994, the group’s efforts led to the creation of the Punta Sal National Park, later to be renamed after Kawas in 1995 after she was murdered for her work to protect the forests, oceans and mangroves during her term as the president of PROLANSATE. She is remembered in light of recent declarations that Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be an environmental land defender. Photo credit: Ejold.org
This report looks at the impacts of gendered land loss and privatization on Afro-Indigenous Garifuna women. Land in Garifuna culture is passed through matrilineal lines and thus the expansion of coastal land markets has resulted in women’s loss of territorial control. Whilst collecting testimony to present before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Gregoria Flores, the head of Fraternal Black Honduran Organization (OFRANEH), a grassroots organization promoting political and land rights of Garifuna communities, was shot and wounded. Miriam Miranda, also a member of OFRANEH, was searched by masked men with a warrant signed by a judge. After being forced out of her house, 19-year-old Mirna Isabel Santos Thomas was found dead alongside the road. Land loss issues have rooted Garifuna women in political struggles.